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1 April 2005

12 Killed in SFWA Flamewar

by L. Ron Creepweans

The outbreak of a vicious flamewar on a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) private forum of has resulted in the deaths of at least 12 authors, though the death toll could climb much higher. "Many writers live alone," said a SFWA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They could be pulling bodies out from behind computer monitors for months."

Experts were shocked by the size and unexpected speed of the flamewar's outbreak, which was the first fatal flamewar to strike SFWA since four writers died in the waning days of the Sawyer presidency. "It seemed like there were a lot of neopros involved," said the spokesman, "people who didn't realize how quickly a flamewar can turn deadly.

"Sure, it all seems like fun and games — until someone gets killed."

The flamewar started innocuously enough in a SFWA Lounge thread on the percentage of reserves against returns on an author's royalty statements for media tie-in novels. "It seemed like a reasonable discussion," said a police spokesman investigating the deaths, "but then something went horribly wrong. Someone brought up the membership requalification issue again, and then all hell broke lose."

From that point on, the flamewar quickly spiraled out of control and wildly off topic to such issues as by-law revisions, print-on-demand publishers, Sturgeon's Law and who it applied to, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Jar-Jar Binks, racial stereotypes, Joseph Campbell, John W. Campbell, Robert A. Heinlein, gun control, Internet piracy, Napster, BitTorrent, Harlan Ellison, abortion, marginal tax rates, the war in Iraq, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, John Ashcroft, the Patriot Act, Dan Rather, Michael Moore, Ayn Rand, rap music, Turkey, Armenia, Global Warming, the Kyoto Treaty, Russ Meyer, LASFS, Forrest J Ackerman, Isaac Asimov, Gnome Press, Philip Jose Farmer, L. Ron Hubbard, the Jonestown suicide, Bluejay Books, migration patterns in squirrels, IguanaCon II, Elian Gonzalez, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Godwin's Law.

Though the deadliest flamewar in SFWA history, old-timers say it wasn't nearly as vicious as the 1970s debate over the SFWA tie. "Only three people died in that," said one 30-year SFWA veteran. "But that was back when you had carry out a flamewar by mail!"

The names of the authors slain were being withheld until authorities could notify their agents.

L. Ron Creepweans is a writer and reviewer.
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